Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Michael Ballack/Becker-Spiegel Gay Affair, Part III

If you've been following the hullaballoo over the ridiculous gay-baiting comments made about the German national team (die Mannschaft) by Michael Becker, the agent of star player Michael Ballack, then you might enjoy taking this a bit further.

Briefly, as noted here, a Der Spiegel article reported the comments Becker made, which included such inane things as referring to specific (but unnamed in the article) players as "gay" or "half-gay" (whateverthehell that means). But his real problem seemed to be the exciting style of play of this newfangled, diverse team. That in itself signified homosexuality to this professor of humankind. But as other commentators have pointed out, Becker was likely trying to talk down the new world of German football because his star client, Ballack, is every bit the representative of the old style of German football: disciplined, slow,  and unexciting.

So, it's disciplined, slow and unexciting, versus disciplined, fast and exciting and "schwul"? Well, I think the German Volk have spoken, and it's wildly in favor of the gay boys, er, the allegedly gay players, no, wait, the almost completely straight players who have been insulted by Becker as playing "gay" football.

Now, leaving aside the ancient squabble of whether gay should even be an insult, it seems inescapable that Becker was insulting the team on purpose. But here's what astonishes little old gay me: Ballack is still the official captain of the team, even though Phillip Lahm filled in for him during the World Cup; so Ballack potentially will take the field in training and competition with those players at some point, and does he really need his ancien regime agent sowing discord and ill will among his team. A team captain is supposed to lead the team, defend it vigorously. But I think each player will likely be looking at Ballack when he comes to the locker room before his first get-together with them, and they'll see Becker-Ballack.

That can't be good. And that's on top of the bad press Becker has caused for his client with the general fans. I don't know anything about Ballack's private beliefs, but I've never heard of him being bigoted. He has always been quite popular, as far as I know. He might be old-style, but I don't think of him as a bad guy. He should get a new agent to make sure others don't begin to think so.

Anyway, in the spirit of lightening up this soap opera-ish tale, I'll note that my favorite tweet that I saw on the topic was to the effect of: "Michael Ballack's manager calls German national team 'gay'; homosexuals say,' Please let it be Podolski!'"

I rather like that. And not just because Podolski wears a game shirt that's a size or two smaller than other players would wear, so it shows off his well-muscled torso. It also just reminds us not to lose our sense of perspective. Becker might represent the old-style football figure who talks dumb and tough and offensively; but Germany has moved on, which is shown by the way the country has wildly embraced this team. At about the same time as the Spiegel article came out, there was the cover story in Stern magazine (see photos above and below) celebrating this team. The German national team includes players from Turkey, Brazil, Ghana, Bosnia, Poland, Spain, Tunisia, Nigeria, and of course good ol' Deutschland. And it might be the most popular team in German history that didn't actually win the Cup.

So I decided to do Becker's job for him, and I paged through Stern's article, which features many of the players with large photos and short bios. Is Mesut Özil gay? That'd be neat. What about Cacau? Very cute, especially in the photo showing him in traditional German clothes. Jérôme Boateng and Marko Marin? Cool, yeah, sure, make them gay. Serdar Tasci? Yeah. Sami Khedira and Mario Gomez, or Piotr Trochowski or Mirslav Klose? Wonderful. Thomas Müller, Dennis Aogo, or Bastian Schweinsteiger? Nice to contemplate. Lukas Podolski? Please let it be Podolski!

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